Lake Balaton, the biggest lake in Central Europe
When traveling in Hungary, exploring Lake Balaton should be on top of the list for every visitor.
Lake Balaton, or the “Hungarian sea” as the locals call it, is the number one summer-getaway destination in Hungary.
It’s hard to find a Hungarian who doesn’t have family member or friends who own a holiday house by Balaton, and so is it equally rare for a Hungarians to let a year pass without spending at least a week relaxing by the magical lake in the sunny seasons of the year.
Lake Balaton, the biggest lake in Central Europe, has always been a top holiday destination not without good reasons, and actually not just among locals. The second most often heard language around the lake in the summer is surprisingly German and not English, unlike in the capital.
Before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Lake Balaton was already one of the favorite destinations among East German holidaymakers, a tradition that’s passed down till this day. No restaurateur around the lake would hire a waiter/waitress who doesn’t have some German language skills.
The smooth, soothing and pristine waters of the vast lake, the agreeable microclimate of the area, and the superior quality of the grapes and wine of the region all made this region an irresistible paradise for vacation-goers.
Hospitality perfected itself throughout centuries of tradition, but don’t expect gripping entertainment, everything is rather simple here, perfectly simple.
Difference between northern and southern shore of Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton and its surrounding region is often thought of by the locals as two distinct areas, the “Southern Shore”, and the “Northern Shore”. Beside the striking geographical differences, there is a cultural one as well between the shores.
The flatter southern shore is well-known for its shallow waters. From the coastline, the water here deepens very gradually towards the center, making it ideal for families with small kids to enjoy the lake.
The southern shore had always been the more popular side of the lake, mainly from its convenient traffic connection with the capital, and its “safe waters”. But as the southern shore slowly become overrun by commercialization, the hilly, vegetated northern shore area with a more rugged surrounding terrain was forgotten by many and developed its own identity. But the neglect wouldn’t just last forever. And finally when the western European pensioners started buying up in a frenzy the abandoned lands and villages of the romantic, sleepy northern shore at a bargain, the locals gradually began to grasp where the real value lies.
Today, we come to describe the northern shore as more tasteful and chic, while the southern rather as more outwardly appealing.
The northern shore of Lake Balaton
The beaches of the romantic, hilly northern shore, give quick access to deeper waters, and a much more diverse landscape. The geological formation on the northern shore of the Lake Balaton, the Balaton Uplands, gave birth to one of the most superior wine-producing regions of the country.
The calm, romantic, untarnished countryside, the sleepy, untouched villages, coupled with centuries-old traditional dwellings, stuffy wine cellars hidden between the small hills are what endowed this area with a very special atmosphere.
Real estate prices on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, especially in the Balaton Uplands area, saw a significant appreciation in the recent decades, as the western Europeans discover, and the locals rediscover the magical charm of Balaton northern shore, seeking refuge from the hectic city life.